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Part 3: 20 Years of Maple Misery
From Gord Stellick to Cliff Fletcher Version 2.0
Itâ€™s been over 40 years since the Leafs won the cup and while others make fun of the fans for continuing to cheer, here is an overview of why you shouldnâ€™t make fun, but feel bad for themâ€¦
Now that the 2008-09 regular season has officially ended, it’s time to take a look back over the roster to assess each of the Maple Leafs’ players.
Note that I’m only including players who finished the season with at least one game played for the Maple Leafs, and am excluding those traded away during the course of the season.
Statistics for those who were acquired mid-season reflect games played as members of the Maple Leafs only.
It’s not yet time to pack away the sticks and skates for some of the Leafs players. A pair of Maple Leaf defensemen, Luke Schenn and Ian White were informed on Saturday night that they would have a chance to represent Team Canada at the upcoming World Hockey Championship which begin April 24th in Switzerland. Jason Blake will lace ‘em up for Team USA while Niklas Hagman will don the Finnish colors.
On a night where the stars were aligned for the first-pick lottery, where a Leafs loss coupled with Phoenix and Los Angeles wins would give the Leafs a chance at the #1 pick overall, a night where Phoenix and LA both did their part … the Maple Leafs took the high road and won the game.
The end result is Toronto finishes with the 7th pick in the draft, entering this week’s lottery draw.
In a game that was just as much about the Flyers’ failings as it was the Leafs’ success, Toronto played an energetic 60 minutes.Â Their bombardment of the Philadelphia net resulted in the exit of a shaky Martin Biron and an eventual total of 38 shots on goal.Â To be brutally honest, the Flyers were awful on a night when they should have steamrolled a non-playoff team.Â Ron Wilson and company must be happy that their team was the only one to show up tonight at the ACC.
With Files from Gil Brown
Brian Burke doesn’t take credit for the Maple Leafs drafting Luke Schenn 5th overall in 2008, but he’s sure glad they did.Â Under different circumstances, which we’ll get into over a series of posts, Burke’s Ducks would have been in the mix for the Saskatoon native at the 2008 draft.
Fortune shined on the blue and white allowing them to trade up to 5th overall pick.Â There was an associated cost from their original seventh spot, but the end result is a potential future Maple Leafs captain of the Scott Stevens mold.
Unbelievable as it seems; perhaps, even laughable, Schenn, could have been wearing Ducks colors.
The story doesn’t begin in Anaheim, however.Â It starts in Edmonton.
The American Hockey League has released the 2008-09 Clear Day Period lists for each of its 29 member clubs.
-Draft pick be damned, being 7-1-1 in our last nine against the Senators is truly heart-warming. P.S., it’s time to point the finger where it needs to be pointed, Bryan Murray… trade Jason Spezza and shake things up in the old country club. Also trade Nick Foligno. To us. For Hollweg.
So here is the situation:
You’re Brian Burke, you’re 6 days from Trade Deadline 2009. You get a phone call from Garth Snow and he has an offer for you. A really big offer.
The offer is…
A rather solid home game by the Leafs saw them come out on the short side of the stick in extra time (yet again), but a fair share of positives came out of tonight’s matchup.Â Justin Pogge played a very solid game in net for the Blue and White, and really needs to continue seeing time like this for anyone to get a fair idea of how he will perform in the NHL.Â Moreover, most of the Leafs were buzzing all night long, and this game really could have gone either way.
John Mitchell capturing fastest skater honours was the revelation of today’s team skills competition. I could’ve predicted the team with Jason Blake and Dominic Moore would’ve won the event but I’m surprised Mitchell clocked in with the best individual time. Here’s the team press release containing the results:
Nothing beats slaughtering Cindy “headjerk” Crosby and his fellow flightless Birds. Nothing.
I think we’ve come to learn that – play your back-ups against the Blue and White as much as you want on any other night – don’t underestimate the Maple Leafs if it’s Saturday night. The Leafs now boast a 9-5-1 record on Hockey Nights in Canada as compared to their 12-20-9 record during the rest of the week. So as much as they may exacerbate your already depressing work week, at least they don’t ruin your weekends. On this Valentine’s day affair, the lowly Leafs were by no means their lovable selves from the opposition’s perspective.
With the trade deadline just weeks away, here are a few rumors that are doing more than just making the rounds.
For all the hype surrounding the seemingly inevitable fight between Grabovksi and Kostitsyn, the two Belorussians were not quite at the forefront of a very chippy game between the Leafs and the Canadiens.Â The animosity apparently encompassed both squads, as the tone was set early by a first period showdown between Georges Laraque and Brad May.Â As is the case with most matchups of these two rivals in Montreal, the crowd’s energy fed into a quick-paced sixty minutes that saw both teams control the play in the offensive zone for lengths of time on end.
A heedless penalty from Alexei Ponikarovsky in the closing stages of the third period and a predictable Vesa Toskala pratfall in the subsequent overtime period undid a strong effort from the Maple Leafs that was deserving of the two points tonight.
It was a game that was circled with a red marker on the calendar, for the Maple Leafs. They would travel to Denver to meet the Avalanche, but this visit had a different feel to it; a different aura. It was potential revenge for ex-blue and white-ers, and similar revenge for a team that struggled the last 3 seasons.
As has been the case for most of this season, rookie defenseman Luke Schenn was one of the lone brights spots as the Toronto Maple Leafs came away with yet another disappointing result on Friday night against the Atlanta Thrashers. Schenn logged nearly 25 minutes of ice-time, 4 minutes on the PK, recorded an assist, made a brilliant defensive play on the Kovalchuk near-breakaway and threw in a couple of resounding hits for good measure. Among the 4 defensemen who logged 20+ minutes of ice-time (Kubina, Kaberle, Schenn, White), Luke was the only one not to finish with a minus rating.
A combination of terrible goaltending and suspect defensive coverage undid the Maple Leafs tonight as they sat on an early 3-0 lead thinking they would ride it to the finish line, failing to take into the account the fact that, with a goaltender that’s seriously struggling between the pipes, leads can disappear on the turn of a dime, let alone over the course of 40 minutes. The end result is one which will please neither side of tanking/playoff spectrum.
So the Maple Leafs extend their tank-friendly stretch of non-success with a convincing 4-1 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, marking their seventh loss in their last nine games. As I snicker while watching Mats Sundin look equal parts lazy, fat and slow (yeah, he scored an empty net chance, so what), here are a few thoughts about tonight’s pedestrian performance from the Blue and White:
The league has announced a 3 game suspension for Maple Leafs rookie Mikhail Grabovski after the â€œabuse of an officialâ€ during last nightâ€™s loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The game got heated, and former Canadien, Grabovski, tried to go after the encouraging Sergei Kostitsyn, but were both held by the officials â€“ Grabovski was pinned to the ice. The â€œinterventionâ€ (which no one ever likes) caused both to become quite upset and, ultimately, Grabovski got up off the ice, used some choice words (which are assumed to have translated into English as â€œI donâ€™t like your faceâ€) then bumped into the official who pinned him and used the same words on the linesman. Near the end of Grabovskiâ€™s speech, he kicked ice at the official (oooo) and skated off the ice giving the audience a double peace-sign â€“ very political.
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